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早年奥巴马的拎包小弟,如今是国会山的硅谷代言人

Richard Morgan 2018年06月05日

很少有人听说过罗希特·康纳,但站在他身后的,是硅谷最有名的一些企业。

康纳在加州圣克拉拉市的办公室外。Photographed by Brad Wenner for Fortune

生活、自由、幸福这些字眼,放在劳务合同时自然相当乍眼。但是在硅谷,有一位名叫罗希特·康纳的人正在坚定不移地推动美国国会为《互联网权利法案》立法。你可能从未听说过这名来自加州的新人议员,随着他再次参选,他的大名或许很快就会火起来了。

康纳的选区里有一些城镇,或许你曾经听说过它们的名字,比如库比蒂诺、弗里蒙特、圣克拉拉、森尼维尔等等。如果你对它们感到陌生,只需记住,以下企业都把总部放在了上面提到的城镇里,比如苹果、谷歌、英特尔、甲骨文、特斯拉等。他的选区有54%的人口是亚裔,白人仅占29%,也就是说外国移民比本地出生的人口还多。该地区的中位收入是121,000美元,比全美平均水平高出两倍以上。在森尼韦尔市,一套面积为848平方英尺的房子的售价大概是200万美元。这样看来,康纳可以说是集奇人、奇地、奇事“三奇”于一身了。在他的选区,光拎出苹果这一家公司,它手里的现金就比美国财政部还要多。大家不禁要问,你到底是在为人民服务,还是在为资本家服务呢?你又该怎样合理使用纳税人税款呢?别忘了,选区里除了苹果,还有谷歌等众多金主。你又打算怎么去服务那些又坐私人飞机又造火箭的企业家呢?

对此康纳表示:我的屁股是坐在群众这边的。康纳本人虽然是斯坦福大学科班出身的正牌经济学家,也有深厚的知识产权法领域的经验,但他认为,有必要把硅谷从神坛上请下来,如果一个政策不能用劳动人民的语言解释清楚,自然也就没有常识和共识可言。

鲜为人知的是,康纳还是美国众议院反垄断小组会议的创始人之一,曾经对亚马逊收购全食公司、AT&T收购时代华纳等收购案发动过反垄断调查,但也有意无意地放过了苹果、Facebook和谷歌等硅谷公司的收购案。特朗普上台之后,为了对新总统表忠心,苹果称要向美国国内投资3500亿美元。康纳则马上跳出来啪啪打脸,表示苹果能拿出350亿美元就不错了。对于Facebook收购Instagram和WhatsApp,康纳也持担忧态度(早在美国联邦贸易委员会对Facebook启动反垄断调查前很久,他就提议这样做了)。康纳曾经说过:“有些硅谷的工程师可以说是人类有史以来最自负的人。”后来他说他这番话是开玩笑,但他从未表示这个玩笑是假话。他还建议国家对企业征收裁员税,还表示让企业破产相当于“核打击选项”。当上议员才两个月,他就以涉嫌“隐蔽垄断”为由,对俄亥俄的一家国防承包商发起了反垄断调查。

没错,看他的画风,就知道他必然是个民主党了。不久他就将代表民主党参加加州第17选区的选举。从目前来看,他成功连任应该是没什么问题的,毕竟他是一个有多重BUFF加身的男人。虽然他是个印度移民,但是他的条件放在整个国会山也是毫不逊色的。像41%的国会议员一样,他有一个法学学位(来自耶鲁);像39%的议员一样,他是个百万富翁。康纳很支持国会对议员的任期限制(即最长任职不超过12年,这样有国会里大量议员干满任期就要走人了)。康纳还与议员贝托·欧洛克共同成立了一个“NO PAC”小组,倡议大家不要通过“政治行动委员会”这样的临时机构搞政治筹款。他的个人身家为2700万美元,是加州议员中排名第四的富豪,不过这主要归功于他的老婆——一家投行的继承人。不过康纳还有5万美元的学生贷款没有还完。(康纳表示,这是因为“我和我老婆是经济独立的。”)在采访中,他不时援引贝恩和麦肯锡的研究,信手拈来几句托克维尔和德国哲学家哈贝马斯的名言,俨然仿佛《白宫风云》编剧阿伦·索尔金笔下的人物,又似一朵不一样的烟火。他是一位极为聪明又敢于反抗权威的人,而他的政坛之路才刚刚开始。

当然,也不是每个人都这么想。《四大巨头:亚马逊、苹果、Facebook、谷歌的隐藏DNA》一书的作者斯科特·加洛韦表示:“康纳是一个聪明人,一个有思想的人,但他不是个合格的国会议员,实际上,无论谁坐在他的位子上,都不会上个合格的议员。那个位子其实是属于大科技公司的。现在有10部iPhone预装了Safari浏览器,20亿部安卓(Android)手机预装了YouTube,但是康纳关心的是推动整个科技行业的整合,而这件事会足足影响1.3亿人。他更关心的是AT&T会不会收购卡通频道这种事,而美国中产阶级并不希望硅谷掌控人们的一切。普通美国人希望打破苹果、谷歌、亚马逊和Facebook对他们生活的主宰,而且他们希望这件事10年前就做到。但我不认为康纳会报有同样的想法,毕竟你不能指望一位烟草行业出身的议员去推动禁烟,也不能指望全美步枪协会去主动禁枪。”

在《财富》杂志于加州和华盛顿等地对康纳持续数日的采访中,我们发现,康纳对自己的要求是很高的,他绝不满足于做一位后奥巴马时代的普通民主党议员。目前在国会的435个席位中,拥有计算机科学学位的议员只有一位。康纳也不懂编程,但他希望做整个科技行业的代言人,引导我们共同的数字化的未来。作为唯一一位曾经成功推动过立法的民主党新人议员,康纳也是个坚定的行动派。他承认,在21世纪的美国,硅谷的影响力不可能被仅仅限制在旧金山湾区,就像19世纪的银行业必然要走出纽约,20世纪的制造业必然要走出底特律、电影业必然要走出好莱坞一样。

他也在亚利桑那、肯塔基、密歇根、俄亥俄、田纳西等州四处为科技公司奔走代言。康纳称自己是国会的“硅谷之魂”,既懂高科技的魔力,又有蓝领工人的实干精神。他说:“硅谷也需要伙伴,编程不是只有在硅谷才能做的。为什么不把制造业的DNA与数码世界结合起来呢?”他的思想其实不难理解:为什么不教煤矿工人挖掘数据呢?为什么不教修车工人修机器人和3D打印机呢?为什么不教农民收获太阳能和风能呢?虽说他的办公桌上放着几本《极乐男权》(Brotopia )、《黑金》(Dark Money)之类的书,在电子邮件里,他和美国前劳工部长罗伯克·瑞克谈笑风生,但可以看出,他的科技世界观似乎多少受了杜波伊斯的黑人理智主义思想影响。话说回来,康纳最近确实刚刚读完了杜波伊斯1903年的著作《黑人的灵魂》(The Souls of Black Folk)。

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness make for an awful Terms of Service contract. But Rohit “Ro” Khanna is adamant about pushing an Internet Bill of Rights. The freshman representative from California is the most noteworthy member of Congress you’ve never heard of. ¬As he seeks reelection, that’s about to change.

His district includes some towns you might know—Cupertino, Fremont, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale—and some corporate headquarters you definitely know: Apple, Google, Intel, Oracle, Tesla. The district is 54% Asian and 29% white. It has more foreign-born residents than native-born. The median income is $121,000, more than twice the national average; an 848-square-foot home in Sunnyvale recently sold for $2 million. It’s Anytown, USA, circa 2080—making Khanna a weird guy in a weird district on a weird mission. When Apple, which has more cash on hand than the U.S. Treasury, is located in your constituency, is serving it still an act of public service? A smart use of taxpayer dollars? Okay, Google, all set? Yeah, thought so. How do you serve entrepreneurs with a private space fleet?

Here’s a disruptive idea: You don’t. Armed with expertise in intellectual-property law and experience as a Stanford economist, Khanna aims to de-jargonize Silicon Valley with the belief that if a policy cannot be explained in laypersons’ language, then it is not common sense.

Yes, Khanna was one of the creators of the Antitrust Caucus, attacking Amazon’s Whole Foods takeover and the AT&T–Time Warner merger, while letting Apple, Facebook, and Google slide by. But he is quick with the receipts on Apple’s boast of bringing $350 billion back to the U.S. It’s more like $35 billion, he says. And Khanna is wary of Facebook’s ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp (he advocated for a stronger, tougher Federal Trade Commission long before it launched an investigation into Facebook). He says he was joking when he said “some of the engineers in the Valley have the biggest egos known to humankind,” but he never says the joke is untrue. He floats the idea of a job displacement tax on corporations but also calls breaking up companies “the nuclear option.” Two months into the job, he helped trigger the investigation of an Ohio defense contractor for operating as a “hidden monopolist.”

The one predictable thing about Khanna is that he’s a Democrat representing California’s 17th Congressional District. The rest is up for grabs, and so far, it’s been a hell of a grab. Forty-one, Hindu, and of Indian descent, the economist sticks out on Capitol Hill—though like 41% of Congress, he has a law degree (from Yale) and, like 39% of Congress, he’s a millionaire. Khanna favors congressional term limits (12 years, which would wipe out huge swaths of Congress) and cocreated a No PAC Caucus consisting of, for now, just Khanna and Rep. Beto O’Rourke. With a net worth of $27 million, he is the fourth-richest member of California’s delegation (thanks to his heiress wife) but maintains $50,000 in student debt because, he says, “We keep separate finances.” He cites Bain and McKinsey studies or Alexis de Tocqueville quotes like he’s doing a walk-and-talk in an Aaron Sorkin script, and casually references German philosopher Jürgen Habermas during his “office hours” listening sessions with constituents at a Panera Bread across from a Party City. He is a whip-smart firecracker of defiance, and he is just getting started.

Not everyone agrees. “Khanna is a smart man, a thoughtful man, but he’s not a member of Congress. Nobody in that seat is. That’s the seat we give to this lobby we call Big Tech,” says Scott Galloway, author of The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. “One billion iPhones are preloaded with Safari, and 2 billion Android phones are preloaded with YouTube, but Khanna wants to focus on a merger that affects 130 million people because it’s more important to him that AT&T doesn’t own Cartoon Network. Middle America doesn’t want to become the Silicon Anything. It wants to break up Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook, and it wants it done 10 years ago. But I wouldn’t expect Khanna to make that conclusion any more than I’d expect a tobacco country congressman to fight cigarettes or the NRA to push for gun control.”

Over days when Fortune shadowed Khanna in California and Washington, D.C., a portrait emerged of a man who has tasked himself—in a legislative body where just one of 435 representatives has a computer science degree—with being more than a post-Obama demographic first-timer. He can’t code, but he aims to be the ambassador of our collective digital future. And, as the only freshman Democrat to have passed a bill, he wants action. He recognizes that 21st-century America can’t cloister its silicon prowess in the San Francisco Bay Area any more than 19th-century America could limit banks to New York or 20th-century America could huddle manufacturing in Detroit or filmmaking in Los Angeles. He is evangelizing the gospel of tech to Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and anywhere else that will hear him out. Khanna positions himself as Congress’s silicon soul, marrying tech’s magic with old-school, blue-collar hustle. “Silicon Valley needs partners,” he says. “You can’t do edited manufacturing just in the Valley. Why not have the DNA of manufacturing but combine it with the digital world?” It’s not difficult to extend Khanna’s line of thought: Why not teach coal miners to mine data? Why not teach car mechanics to fix robots and 3D printers? Why not teach farmers to harvest solar and wind energy? Yet, while his desk is strewn with copies of Brotopia and Dark Money and his in-box is full of back-and-forths with Robert Reich, his digital worldview has found an unlikely framer in W.E.B. DuBois, a titan of black intellectualism who cofounded the NAACP in 1909. Khanna recently finished DuBois’s 1903 book, The Souls of Black Folk.

加州圣克拉拉,康纳的第17选区竞选办公室一角。

“杜波伊斯和布克·华盛顿进行过一场很有意义的辩论,讨论黑人教育到底应该注重技能教育,还是更注重诗歌、哲学、历史和艺术等全方位的教育。也就是说,从那时起,就出现了纯理工与理工文史之争,这是一个非常令人惊讶的文化案例研究。这些东西是我在蒂姆·菲利斯或其他人的书里看不到的。”

总的来说,康纳希望避免大国之间在人工智能开发领域陷入军备竞赛,同时他也了解大众对未知的恐惧。“想象一下,如果苹果、谷歌和英特尔都是中国公司,那还是满可怕的。”他还希望科技能变得更人性化,创新可以更亲民。

康纳的从政之路不可谓不传奇。1996年,还是芝加哥大学学生的康纳加入了一个本地议员的助选团队,替议员先生挨家挨户敲门拉选票,让他拉票的那个怪模怪样的议员名叫巴拉克·奥巴马。过了12年,这个叫奥巴马的家伙居然入主了白宫。康纳便拿出奥巴马当年写给自己的感谢信,请求奥巴马在政府里给自己谋个一官半职。康纳回忆道:“当时我常努力地尝试,非常坚持。”最后,奥巴马总算想起了他,让康纳当了美国商务部助理副部长。2014年在竞选众议院议院时,他输给了经验丰富的老议员迈克·本田。后来康纳再次参选,并取得胜利,但期间也颇经波折(他的助选经理因涉嫌用黑客手段窃取电子邮件而吃了官司,后辞职)。现在康纳即将迎来他的首次改选。根据美国的选举制度,硅谷跟美国其他选区一样,它的这一组议员每隔两年也是要换换血的。

“DuBois and Booker T. Washington had this fascinating debate about whether black education should focus on skills or on the bigger notions of poetry and philosophy and history and art,” he says. “It was STEM vs. STEAM, even back then. It’s an incredible cultural case study. So that’s what I read instead of a Tim Ferriss book or whatever.”

Broadly, Khanna wants to avoid a Sputnik moment in the global race to develop artificial intelligence and is kept awake by a sweeping fear. “Imagine a world where Apple, Google, and Intel were Chinese companies,” he says. “It would be scary.” He wants tech to be more human and innovation to be more accessible.

He learned from the best. In 1996 as a student at the University of Chicago—long known as a place “where fun goes to die”—Khanna knocked on doors in a local race on behalf of a fellow weirdo named Barack Obama. When Obama shot into the White House 12 years later, Khanna sent in an old letter of thanks Obama had written him and begged for a job in the administration. “I tried very, very, very hard,” he recalls. “I was very, very, very persistent.” He became deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2014 he ran (and lost) against longtime representative Mike Honda. Khanna ran again and won, but under a dark cloud (his campaign manager resigned after a lawsuit accused him of email hacking). Now Khanna is up for his first reelection. In Congress, Silicon Valley, like the rest of the country, gets an OS update every two years.

时刻“在线”的康纳。Photographed by Brad Wenner for Fortune

为了解决海外科技创业者难以获得H-1B签证赴美合法工作的难题,2011年,有一批投资人抛出了建立Blueseed海上孵化器的计划。从本质上看,该计划就是搞一条豪华版的贩运奴隶的大船,像它停泊在旧金山外的公海水面上,让想到美国赚钱的国际创业者在船上工作,同时他们也可持一日签证短暂进入美国。2013年,风投资本家蒂姆·德雷普建议将加州分割成六块(后来又改成“三分加州”计划)。2015年,有俄国人背景的“加州脱美”运动又闹得一时人心惶惶。幸好这些不靠谱的计划都没有付诸现实。话说回来,这些脑洞都是从硅谷冒出来的,美国的真的需要把这些不切实际的思想传染给广大内陆地区吗?

康纳的朋友、斯坦福商学院院长乔纳森·莱文表示:“我是一个科技乐观主义者,我也乐见有一个科技乐观主义者在华盛顿努力工作。如果可以选择的话,我当然选择乐观。”

随着硅谷的男权至上、程序员至上的畸型文化渐渐褪色,主张职场平权的MeToo运动获得社会广泛支持,科技行业自身的平权意识也在觉醒。为了打破硅谷的男权垄断,他还在圣克拉拉大学搞了一个呼吁性别平权的研讨会,会上,他与8位有权势的女性坐在主席台上(除了他没有别的男人),她们中不乏来自Facebook、谷歌和LinkedIn的高管。

不过他还是坐在了中间的座位上。(财富中文网)

本文原载于2018年6月1日刊的《财富》杂志。

译者:朴成奎

Thank God. In 2011 investors proposed Blueseed, a fix for tech’s H-1B visa crisis that was, in essence, a luxurious slave ship anchored in international waters off the coast of San Francisco, offering tenants day passes into the country. In 2013 venture capitalist Tim Draper proposed to fracture California into six states (he later revised it to three). In 2015 the Russia-linked CalExit secession plan emerged. Does America really need that crackpot thinking infecting the hinterlands?

“I’m a technology optimist, and I’m glad to see a fellow technology optimist working hard in Washington,” says Jonathan Levin, dean of Stanford’s graduate school of business and a friend of Khanna’s. “I want optimism, given the alternative.”

On the bright side, the tech industry itself has galvanized an egalitarian awakening as toxic brogrammer culture gives way to leaning in and #MeToo empathy. At a gender equity panel he convened at Santa Clara University to shatter Silicon Valley’s quid bro quo, Khanna sat onstage with eight powerful women (and no men), including senior staff from Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn.

He took the center seat.

This article originally appeared in the June 1, 2018 issue of Fortune.

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